WUHAN, China - Dominika Cibulkova completed her arduous journey to the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open final with a thrilling victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova
After over two and half hours of thrilling tennis, Cibulkova added the finishing touch to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory by thumping a backhand onto the baseline. In the final she will face the winner of Friday's evening session, Petra Kvitova.
"It feels great. I'm really tired right now, but the feeling to be in the final is unbelievable, and that's why I love it," Cibulkova said. "It's just a great win for me today."
Cibulkova's path to the final has been far from straightforward. Rain earlier in the week forced the Slovak to play both her last 16 and quarterfinal matches on Thursday, making the level of play against Kuznetsova all the more remarkable.
"I would say that nothing has been easy here. I've had really tough matches from the first round so you don't expect anything easy from this tournament. I'm really looking forward to another final and I want to keep going, keep playing like this," Cibulkova added.
Outthought and outfought in the first set, Cibulkova went back to the drawing board at the start of the second. Her change of tack reaped immediate dividends, bookending a trademark drive volley with a couple of perfectly executed drop shots to break in the opening game.
"I have my notes with me [on court] for a couple of years now and it's helping me, so it's nothing new for me but it's something that keeps me focused and helps me remember things to do - it's just a reminder for me. But it helped me today."
While this advantage did not last for long, the tide was turning, Cibulkova taking four of the last five games to force a decider.
With the contest in the balance, Cibulkova somehow managed to summon her best tennis. Serving at 4-4, 15-30, she finished a series of energy sapping points with spectacular winners to edge ahead. This sequence seemed to drain the belief from Kuznetsova, who soon found herself staring at three match points. One was enough, Cibulkova pouncing on an inviting serve to reach her fifth final of the season.
The result not only guarantees a return to the Top 10 but also boosts her hopes of reaching the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global for the first time. She will now occupy one of the eight qualification spots on Monday, regardless of the result in the final.